Top Soccer Leagues and Tournaments
Are you familiar with all the top soccer tournaments in the world?
You perhaps know that the English Premier League is the most popular soccer competition on the planet, Major League Soccer flies the flag for North America, and the FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of the international game.
But even the most diehard soccer fan couldn’t name ALL the different soccer leagues around the world.
With hundreds of professional soccer competitions out there, finding information on every tournament isn’t easy. Because of that, we put together this page to make life a little easier for you.
Below, we cover the best soccer competitions to bet on, the top international tournaments, the leading domestic leagues and cups, and more.
Soccer Leagues and Tournaments – Table of Contents
Best Soccer Competitions to Bet On
Here at GamblingSites.com, we obviously know a thing or two about soccer betting.
So, let’s kick things off by looking at the best soccer competitions for betting on.
English Premier League
- Year Established: 1992
- Number of Teams: 20
- Season Length: August – May
- Most Successful Team: Manchester United (13 titles)
Undoubtedly the most popular soccer competition on the planet, the English Premier League (EPL) is easily one of the best soccer leagues to bet on.
Although England’s Football League was founded all the way back in 1888, the Premier League was inaugurated in 1992.
Originally consisting of 24 teams, the EPL now comprises 20 sides and is the richest soccer league in the world.
The EPL is home to many of the biggest stars in the sport and is watched by soccer fans worldwide. With every single team boasting multiple world-class players, the Premier League is also one of the most competitive domestic soccer competitions out there.
|RECENT EPL CHAMPIONS (2016 – 2021)|
|2017/18||Manchester City||Manchester United|
|2020/21||Manchester City||Manchester United|
As the table above details, four different teams won the EPL title in six seasons between 2015/16 and 2020/21 – underlining the competitive nature of the league. In fact, seven sides occupied the top two places during that period.
The EPL’s competitiveness makes it one of the best soccer leagues for betting on, as the odds for individual matches, outrights and futures, and other markets are always high.
The Premier League is also one of the best soccer competitions to bet on due to its popularity. With billions of people following the EPL worldwide, bookmakers invariably dish up endless EPL betting opportunities.
UEFA Champions League
- Year Established: 1955 (rebranded in 1992)
- Number of Teams: 32
- Season Length: September – May
- Most Successful Team: Real Madrid (13 titles)
The UEFA Champions League (UCL) – formerly the European Cup – is Europe’s premier club competition. Held annually, the Champions League sees the best teams from Europe’s top leagues battle it out to be crowned champions of the continent.
One of the most popular soccer tournaments on the planet, the UCL begins with a round-robin group stage before heading into a doubled-legged knockout format. The remaining two sides then compete for the trophy in the final.
|MOST SUCCESSFUL TEAMS IN UCL HISTORY|
Although Real Madrid is the most successful club in the history of the competition, it is extremely difficult for teams to enjoy extended periods of dominance in the Champions League. Just like the EPL, the UCL is hugely competitive – making it one of the best soccer competitions to bet on.
Sportsbooks always offer attractive soccer prop bets for the Champions League, too. If you like taking advantage of unique props and specials, you will love betting on the UCL.
Major League Soccer
- Year Established: 1996
- Number of Teams: 27
- Season Length: April – December
- Most Successful Team: LA Galaxy (5 titles)
Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top soccer league in the United States and Canada, comprising 24 US sides and three Canadian teams. Founded in 1996, 13 clubs have won the MLS Cup over the years, with the LA Galaxy clinching a record five titles.
The league is split into two conferences – East and West – and the regular season runs from April to November.
The top seven teams from each conference qualify for the postseason, competing in a knockout-style tournament to reach the MLS Cup final.
We believe that MLS is one of the best soccer leagues to bet on for numerous reasons, but we particularly like the fact that MLS matches tend to produce plenty of goals. The table below shows the eye-catching goalscoring numbers from the 2020 season.
|GOAL STATS FOR THE 2020 MLS SEASON|
|Average goals per game||2.86|
|Games with over 1.5 goals||76%|
|Games with over 2.5 goals||58%|
|Games with over 3.5 goals||31%|
If you want to find out more about how and where to bet on Major League Soccer, head on over to our complete MLS betting guide.
FIFA World Cup
- Year Established: 1930
- Number of Teams: 32
- Season Length: June – July (November – December for Qatar 2022)
- Most Successful Team: Brazil (5 titles)
You simply cannot talk about the major soccer tournaments without mentioning the FIFA World Cup.
Inaugurated in 1930, the World Cup brings together the top international teams on the planet every four years. It truly is the holy grail of professional soccer, with players and coaches often dedicating their entire careers to participating in the competition.
Just eight nations have lifted the prestigious trophy over the past nine decades. Brazil has triumphed on a record five occasions, while Germany and Italy have both won the World Cup four times.
|WINNERS OF THE FIFA WORLD CUP|
The World Cup is one of those sporting events that nearly everyone bets on.
Many people who don’t follow soccer or don’t usually gamble like to place a wager or two on the World Cup – and that’s what makes it one best soccer competitions for betting on.
The popularity of the tournaments means that bookies always provide lots of exciting World Cup betting markets for us to take advantage of. Check out these World Cup betting tips to learn how to take advantage of them.
Top Soccer Tournaments for National Teams
While the World Cup is the pinnacle of international soccer, there are plenty of other soccer tournaments for national teams that you should know about.
Here are more of the best international soccer competitions from around the world.
UEFA European Championship
As the name suggests, the UEFA European Championship is the leading international soccer tournament for nations in Europe.
Often referred to as the “Euros,” the competition was first hosted by France in 1960 and has taken place every four years since then.
In total, 55 teams are eligible to qualify for the tournament, although there are only 24 places available. The 24 successful sides are split into six groups of four, with the top two from each group – along with the best third-place teams – qualifying for the knockout phase.
Although the competition is usually hosted by one country, Euro 2020 took place across the continent in 11 different nations. Italy beat England in the Euro 2020 final, claiming their second title.
Let’s take a look at the other European Championship winners.
- Germany: 3 (1972, 1980, 1996)
- Spain: 3 (1964, 2008, 2012)
- Italy: 2 (1968, 2020)
- France: 2 (1984, 2000)
- Soviet Union: 1 (1960)
- Czech Republic: 1 (1976)
- Portugal: 1 (2016)
- Netherlands: 1 (1988)
- Denmark: 1 (1992)
- Greece: 1 (2004)
The Copa America is the oldest and longest-running international soccer tournament in existence. South America’s leading international competition first occurred all the way back in 1916 and has taken place a total of 47 times over the past century.
With only ten nations in the CONMEBOL confederation, there is no qualifying for the Copa America. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela compete in every tournament, along with two guest nations.
The 12 sides are separated into two groups of six, with the top four teams from each group heading into the quarter-finals. The competition then follows a knockout format before the remaining two sides go head-to-head in the final.
As you can see, the Copa America has been totally dominated by three teams.
|COPA AMERICA CHAMPIONS|
Africa Cup of Nations
The Africa Cup of Nations, as you would expect, is the continental tournament for African national teams. AFCON was first held in 1957, but unlike similar international competitions, it takes place every two years.
With a whopping 54 member associations in the CAF confederation, the qualification process for AFCON is extensive. More than half of the teams miss out on the tournament, with 24 sides qualifying. The competition follows the regular format of a group stage followed by knockouts.
Egypt (7) is the most successful country in AFCON history, having clinched seven titles. Cameroon (5), Ghana (4), Nigeria (3), Ivory Coast (2), Algeria (2), and DR Congo (2) have also won multiple titles, while seven other teams have triumphed on one occasion.
CONCACAF Gold Cup
The CONCACAF region comprises nations from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Founded in 1991 to replace the now-defunct CONCACAF Championship, the Gold Cup takes place bi-annually and features 16 teams.
Since the tournament’s rebranding, Mexico (8) and the United States (7) have won 15 of the 16 titles between them. Canada (1) is the only other side to have won the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Including CONCACAF Championship titles, here are the region’s most successful countries of all time.
- Mexico: 11 (1965-2019)
- United States: 7 (1991-2021)
- Costa Rica: 3 (1963-1989)
- Canada: 2 (1985-2000)
- Honduras: 1 (1981)
- Haiti: 1 (1973)
- Guatemala: 1 (1967)
AFC Asian Cup
Every four years, the top international teams in Asia compete in the AFC Asian Cup. The tournament first took place in 1956, making it the second-oldest continental soccer competition in the world – behind the Copa America.
46 sides are eligible to qualify for the Asian Cup, although the tournament only has 24 finals spots.
With four titles, Japan (4) is the most successful team in the history of the Asian Cup. Saudi Arabia (3), Iran (3), and South Korea (2) have also triumphed more than once, with five countries lifting the trophy on one occasion.
OFC Nations Cup
The OFC Nations Cup is the international competition for teams in the Oceania Football Confederation. The OFC’s members consist of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and several Pacific Island nations.
Held biannually between 1996 and 2012, the OFC Nations Cup now takes place every four years. Since Australia’s move from the OFC to the AFC back in 2006, the tournament has been dominated by New Zealand, with Tahiti claiming a shock victory in 2012.
|OFC NATIONS CUP WINNERS|
International Soccer Competitions for Clubs
Of course, the UEFA Champions League is widely regarded as the greatest continental club tournament in world soccer. But there are many more international club competitions to discuss.
Having already covered the UCL, we examine more international soccer competitions for clubs below.
Behind the UEFA Champions League, the Copa Libertadores is arguably the most popular continental club competition in soccer.
Steeped in history and followed by the most passionate soccer supporters in the world, the Copa Libertadores is South America’s premier club competition. From the beaches of Rio Janeiro to the mountains of La Paz, the tournament is fiercely contested across the continent.
The format has changed numerous times since the first edition in 1960. Nowadays, however, 32 teams battle it out for the trophy, with a group stage followed by a knockout phase.
Below is a list of clubs with the most Copa Libertadores titles.
- Independiente (Argentina): 7
- Boca Juniors (Argentina): 6
- Peñarol (Uruguay): 5
- River Plate (Argentina): 4
- Estudiantes (Argentina): 4
- Olimpia (Paraguay): 3
- Nacional (Uruguay): 3
- São Paulo (Brazil): 3
- Santos (Brazil): 3
- Grêmio (Brazil): 3
UEFA Europa League
The UEFA Europa League (UEL) – formerly the UEFA Cup – is Europe’s secondary club competition. Founded in 1971 and rebranded in 2009, the Europa League always invariably features some of the most famous clubs in European soccer.
Since its rebranding, the tournament has been won by heavyweights such as Manchester United, Chelsea, and Atletico Madrid, with famous names like Liverpool, Real Madrid, Juventus, and Inter Milan triumphing during the UEFA Cup era.
UEFA Europa Conference League
Believe it or not – European soccer now has a tertiary continental club competition. Behind both the UCL and UEL, the UEFA Europa Conference League was introduced at the start of the 2021/22 season.
With clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, AS Roma, and Feyenoord eligible for the inaugural Europa Conference League, the tournament boasts some notable names. It also gives smaller European teams an opportunity to compete continentally.
You can learn more about the UEFA Europa Conference League in the following post.
CONCACAF Champions League
The CONCACAF Champions League is the leading international club tournament for teams in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Known as the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup between 1962 and 2008, the competition is now held annually from April to October.
After a lengthy qualification process, the top 16 teams are entered directly into a knockout tournament. Teams play their opponents home and away in the round of 16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals before the remaining two sides face off in the final.
Mexican teams have completely dominated this competition over the years, winning 36 of the 57 titles (63%). Club America (7) has won the most titles, while Cruz Azul (6), Pachuca (5), and Monterrey have also enjoyed vast success.
|CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – WINNING NATIONS|
FIFA Club World Cup
A relatively new addition to the soccer calendar, the FIFA Club World Cup was first held in 2000. The annual tournament sees the winners of the previous season’s leading continental club competitions go head-to-head in a straight knockout format.
While the Club World Cup isn’t viewed as a prestigious competition by the biggest sides, it is the pinnacle for teams from the smaller confederations. That said, no club from outside Europe and South America has ever lifted the trophy.
AFC Champions League
The AFC Champions League, often referred to as the Asian Champions League, is the premier club tournament for Asian sides. Held annually since 1967, the competition comprises 32 teams from across the continent – following the traditional group-knockout format.
Top teams from the leading domestic Asian leagues such as Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia qualify directly for the tournament, while clubs from lesser divisions have to come through additional qualifying rounds to book their place in the competition.
CAF Champions League
This is the annual competition for Africa’s top teams. The reigning champions from every top-flight league in the continent qualify automatically, as well as the defending CAF Champions League winner. The second-place sides in the 12 highest-ranked leagues also qualify.
After a series of preliminary rounds, the group stage sees the remaining 16 teams split into four groups of four. The top two sides from each group progress to the knockout phase, playing home and away in both the quarter and semi-finals before the final.
The tournament has been running since 1964, with Egyptian giant Al Ahly commanding the competition.
|LEADING CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS|
|TP Mazembe||DR Congo||4|
UEFA Super Cup
The UEFA Super Cup is contested annually between the winners of Europe’s primary and secondary club competitions – the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.
This may only be a one-off game, but it is still viewed as an esteemed honor. The reigning UCL and EUL champions go head-to-head just before the start of each domestic European season, kicking off the new campaign in style.
OFC Champions League
The last of our international club competitions is the OFC Champions league. This tournament is for the leading clubs in the Oceania region, featuring the top sides from nations like New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Fiji.
The OFC Champions League isn’t among the most popular continental soccer competitions. However, for the teams competing in the tournament, the OFC Champions League is undeniably the pinnacle.
Domestic Soccer Leagues
There are hundreds of professional domestic soccer leagues around the world. We have already included the EPL and MLS among our top soccer competitions to bet on, so let’s check out some other major soccer leagues.
In this section, we detail a few of the most popular soccer leagues before looking at every country with a professional top-flight division.
- Country: Germany
- Year Established: 1963
- Number of Teams: 18
- Most Successful Team: Bayern Munich (30 titles)
Boasting many of the greatest players in the game, the German Bundesliga is the second-richest domestic soccer league in the world – behind the English Premier League.
Bayern Munich is undoubtedly the standout club in Germany’s top flight, having clinched a whopping 30 titles over the years. Teams like Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, and Bayer Leverkusen also feature regularly in the Champions League.
- Country: Spain
- Year Established: 1929
- Number of Teams: 20
- Most Successful Team: Real Madrid (34 titles)
Home to two of the biggest clubs in world soccer – Real Madrid and Barcelona – La Liga is followed by millions of soccer fans globally. The top teams are able to attract the very best players on the planet, with guys like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominating Spain’s top tier in the past.
Real Madrid (34) has won the most La Liga titles in history, followed by Barcelona (26). Atletico Madrid (11), Athletic Bilbao (8), Valencia (2), and Real Sociedad (2) are the only other sides to have clinched multiple titles.
- Country: Italy
- Year Established: 1898 (rebranded in 1929)
- Number of Teams: 20
- Most Successful Team: Juventus (36 titles)
When it comes to discussing the major soccer leagues, you can’t leave Serie A out of the conversation. The Italian top flight kicked off all the way back in 1890 and has been at the forefront of world soccer ever since.
Juventus has been the leading light in Serie A in recent times, winning nine straight titles between 2012 and 2020. But with Inter Milan ending Juve’s supremacy in 2021, the league’s competitive edge has returned.
- Country: France
- Year Established: 1930 (rebranded in 2002)
- Number of Teams: 20
- Most Successful Team: Saint-Étienne (10 titles)
Although Ligue 1 isn’t as famous as Europe’s other top leagues, Lionel Messi’s transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain put the spotlight back on France’s top flight in 2021.
Alongside PSG, teams like Marseille, Monaco, Lyon, and Lille make Ligue 1 one of the most popular soccer leagues in the world. French sides often shine in the Champions League, too, attracting more attention to the domestic division.
More Domestic Soccer Leagues
Having covered many of the biggest domestic soccer leagues, here is an A-Z list displaying most of the top-flight soccer competitions from across the globe.
|COUNTRIES WITH A PROFESSIONAL TOP-FLIGHT SOCCER LEAGUE|
|Afghanistan||Afghan National League|
|Algeria||Algerian League Professionelle 1|
|Bahrain||Bahraini Premier League|
|Bangladesh||Bangladesh Premier League|
|Belgium||Belgian First Division A|
|Belize||Premier League of Belize|
|Bhutan||Bhutan National League|
|Brazil||Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A|
|Brunei||Brunei Super League|
|Bulgaria||Bulgarian First League|
|Cambodia||Cambodia Premier League|
|Canada||Canadian Premier League|
|China||Chinese Super League|
|Costa Rica||Liga FPD|
|Cuba||Campeonato Nacional de Futbol de Cuba|
|Czech Republic||Czech Liga|
|Egypt||Egyptian Premier League|
|England||English Premier League|
|Greece||Super League Greece|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong Premier League|
|Hungary||Nemzeti Bajnoksag I|
|India||Indian Super League|
|Iran||Persian Gulf Pro League|
|Iraq||Iraqi Premier League|
|Ireland||League of Ireland Premier Division|
|Israel||Israeli Premier League|
|Jamaica||Jamaican National Premier League|
|Jordan||Jordan Premier League|
|Kyrgyzstan||Kyrgyzstan Premier League|
|Lebanon||Lebanese Premier League|
|Malaysia||Malaysia Super League|
|Nepal||Memorial A-Division League|
|New Zealand||New Zealand Football Championship|
|North Korea||DPR Korea League|
|Oman||Oman Professional League|
|Pakistan||Pakistan Premier League|
|Panama||Liga Panamena de Futbol|
|Philippines||Philippines Football League|
|Saudi Arabia||Saudi Professional League|
|South Africa||Premier Soccer League|
|South Korea||K League 1|
|Switzerland||Swiss Super League|
|Thailand||Thai League T1|
|Ukraine||Ukrainian Premier League|
|United Arab Emirates||UAE Pro League|
|United States of America||Major League Soccer|
|Vietnam||V. League 1|
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Domestic Cup Competitions in Soccer
Alongside their domestic leagues, most soccer clubs compete in domestic cup competitions. Most countries have one or two domestic cup tournaments, giving teams an extra opportunity to win silverware.
Let’s take a closer look at the some of the most famous domestic cup competitions on the soccer calendar.
- Country: England
- Year Established: 1871
- Number of Teams: 729 (2021/22 season)
- Most Successful Team: Arsenal (14 titles)
Undoubtedly the most famous domestic club competition in soccer, the Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) was first staged back in 1871 – a century and a half ago!
The FA Cup has a very special place on the English soccer calendar, as it involves both professional and amateur teams. With several hundred clubs entering the competition each year, the FA Cup often produces “giant-killings”, with smaller teams overcoming top clubs.
- Country: England
- Year Established: 1960
- Number of Teams: 92
- Most Successful Team: Liverpool, Manchester City (8 titles)
The EFL Cup, currently known as the Carabao Cup for sponsorship reasons, is another domestic club competition in England. Unlike the FA Cup, however, this tournament is for the 92 professional teams in the English soccer pyramid.
It does follow the same format as the FA Cup, though, using a straight knockout process before the final.
Liverpool and Manchester City have both won eight titles since the competition started in 1960. Aston Villa, Manchester United, and Chelsea have all won the EFL Cup five times, while both Tottenham and Nottingham Forest have triumphed on four occasions.
- Country: Germany
- Year Established: 1935
- Number of Teams: 64
- Most Successful Team: Bayern Munich (20 titles)
The German Cup, officially known as the DFB-Pokal, is Germany’s domestic knockout competition. 64 teams, including clubs from the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, compete for the trophy every year.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Bayern Munich’s domination of German soccer has seen the club win far more DFB-Pokal titles than any other side.
Copa del Rey
- Country: Spain
- Year Established: 1903
- Number of Teams: 126
- Most Successful Team: Barcelona (31 titles)
Founded in 1903, the Copa del Rey is one of the oldest domestic cup competitions in the world of soccer. With over a century of history, Spain’s knockout tournament is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious cups in the game.
In fact, the first Copa del Rey campaign took place more than 25 years before La Liga was even invented.
126 teams participate annually in the current competition, including clubs from the country’s lower leagues, as well as all the biggest names such as Barcelona and Real Madrid.
- Country: Italy
- Year Established: 1922
- Number of Teams: 44
- Most Successful Team: Juventus (14 titles)
The Coppa Italia is Italy’s premier domestic club tournament and runs in tandem alongside the top divisions in the country every year. The competition comprises all 40 teams from Serie A and Serie B, along with the top four clubs from Serie C.
Juventus (14) has won more Coppa Italia titles than any other side. Roma (9), Inter (7), and Lazio (7) are also among the 16 clubs to have lifted the trophy.
Choosing Which Soccer Competition to Bet On
At the top of this page, we shared four of the best soccer competitions to bet on. While we recommend these as the best soccer leagues for betting on, there are hundreds of tournaments that you can gamble on.
Betting on the English Premier League and other elite soccer leagues is great. Due to the popularity of the top competitions, sportsbooks offer a vast range of markets – giving us more opportunities to win money.
That said, straying away from the bright lights of the EPL and wagering on lesser-known soccer tournaments can be very profitable.
Ultimately, when it comes to choosing which soccer competitions to bet on, the choice is yours. Just make sure you follow the tips below to give yourself the best possible chance of landing your soccer bets.
- Familiarize Yourself with the League – Before you part ways with your cash, make sure you learn about the competition. Research the teams, players, stats, trends, and everything in between.
- Find Competitions with Lots of Betting Markets – If you gamble on soccer tournaments with numerous betting markets, there will always be more ways to win money.
- Consider Time Zones and Kick-Off Times – If in-play soccer betting is something you are interested in, make sure you wager on leagues that you can watch live. Watching live matches will only enhance your chances of winning cash.
- Pick Tournaments with Vast Coverage – The more information you can gather, the more likely you are to land your soccer bets. That’s why we recommend gambling on competitions that are widely reported on.
More Soccer Betting Resources
That concludes our look at all the different soccer leagues and competitions around the world.
Of course, we hope the information on this page is helpful when it comes to betting on soccer. But even if you simply want to learn about different soccer tournaments, this page should be equally as useful.
We have a ton of other helpful resources for soccer bettors on our site. Our soccer blog contains loads of useful posts for betting on various soccer competitions, so make sure you check that out.
If you want to start betting right away, why not head over to our soccer picks section? Our writers share tips and predictions for all the top tournaments, including the EPL, MLS, UCL, and more. Here are some of their latest picks.